Shane Brown is a lifelong naturalist and the caretaker at Big Oak Canyon, Earthroots 39-acre property in Silverado, California. This blog is a highlight reel of his experiences at Big Oak Canyon.

Join Shane for a 2-hour casual wander observing the flora and fauna of Big Oak Canyon on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.
*See schedule for dates and times
Second Tuesdays of the month will be focused on plants, and fourth Tuesdays will be focused on birds and animal tracks and sign.

November brought a sharp shift from summer to winter, as the weather changed from dry Santa Ana winds to the first soaking rains that brought the first sprouts, and a ton of snow in the mountains higher up!

Big Oak Canyon Highlights

This picture tells the story of November. The wild oats were dry and golden from the dry summer, then came the Santa Ana Winds that knocked them over, then the rains which left droplets along the stem. Soon the rains of winter will turn them gray and bring up the new sprouts.
The acorns are on, and ready for harvest!
These miniature persimmons have been a treat for students at Big Oak!
We had a couple of workdays on our cob bench and are close to completion! Made of all-natural materials, it has cob (mud and straw) covered by lime plaster. Designs in this Story Bench include a sun, niches for hidden treasures, a mountain lion, bird, mountains, and oak trees.
Participants layer lime plaster on cob bench.
Lime plaster drying on the cob bench.

Projects and Discoveries

The old septic system at Big Oak had a lot of mysteries to uncover! Here, we’re repairing a broken section of the pipes, and soon we will be installing a real bathroom that connects to it! Donate to help finish this project so we can upgrade to a nice bathroom!
I had the amazing opportunity to spend two weeks at doing the Permaculture Design Course at Quail Springs, which is about 2 hours inland from Santa Barbara. I learned so much about designing efficient and holistic systems of human settlement that help repair the Earth by harmonizing with natural patterns! Here’s a view of “downtown” Quail Springs.
Even the goat pens at Quail Springs were beautifully made and blend in with the hillside.

Trivia Questions

Answers for last month:

What do tarantula hawk wasps eat?
The larvae eat tarantulas, but the adults can be seen feeding on flowers.

Why can fossils of sea creatures be found so far inland in the mountains?
The ocean used to extend much farther over the land, and Big Oak was underwater!

What color dye can you get from walnut husks?
It can be made various shades from light to very dark brown

What is a building material that is fire-proof, natural, insulative, sturdy, cheap, and can be shaped into any form imaginable?
Cob!

This Month’s Questions:

What are the two species of oak found at Big Oak Canyon?

What is the plant at Big Oak that has bright red berries at this time of year, looks like holly, and has leaves that can be boiled into a tea that tastes like cherries?

What kind of small, slow-moving animal at Big Oak emerges from the ground when the rain begins in fall or winter?

Where is the easiest place to store rain water, and how do you do it?

Blog post was written by Shane Brown.
Shane is the caretaker of Earthroots’ Big Oak Canyon property. He also teaches the Spanish Immersion in Nature and Ancestral Arts programs. He occasionally helps with other Earthroots classes and leads volunteer days at Big Oak Canyon.

Categories: Shane's Corner

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